I want to cultivate a contemporary attitude toward art in general — to make this a contemporary museum of art, not a museum of contemporary art.
— Douglas MacAgy in 1960
What is Art After X? We started this effort with a knowledge of the Regionalist art scene in Dallas that existed until the middle of the 20th Century. We did not have a vivid image of the Dallas art scene from the 60s forward. So we chose 1963, the year the Museum for Contemporary Arts in Dallas merged into the Dallas Museum of Art, and also the year of the Kennedy assassination, the location of which is marked with an X and is forever branded on the city’s psyche.
Many artists active in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s are still active today. Some contemporary art has been influenced by them, and into the present day things become difficult to distinguish. We certainly enjoy keeping up with the contemporary art scene in Dallas, Texas and beyond.
Below is some information on the book we hope to publish.
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With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger but also declined to the directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage.
When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city.
With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but forward from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s.
The result will be a book with a video component.